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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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Anyone use a tube amplifier or integrated tube amp ?

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  • Anyone use a tube amplifier or integrated tube amp ?

    I have C7es3's and was wondering what tube amps others have found to work well with the Harbeths? Or should I stay hybrid or SS ? Thanks for any relpies.

    John

  • #2
    C7 and amps

    Hey, John

    I have a pair of C7 ES-2's and a pair of Monitor 30's. I've driven both pairs with the following:

    NAD 3020 (Solid State)
    Conrad Johnson MV 75 A-1 (Tube)
    Quicksilver V-4 mono amps (T)
    Dynaco Stereo 70 (Tube, modified, 28 WPC triode)
    Pass Labs Aleph J clone (Solid State, 15 WPC Class A)

    I find these speakers are not sensitive to the type of amp or output power, and they (may?) actually sound better with lower powered amps! The Quicksilvers are 120 WPC and it's overkill! The best sounds are from the Stereo 70 and the Pass Labs clone; the less efficient Monitor 30's sound spectacular with the little Class A amp.

    I wouldn't spend a fortune on power for your 7's, and I've heard a lot of good things about the 7's being driven with the Naim 5i integrated (around 50 WPC solid state). Save your money for records and CD's and some really good cables. I've had great results with Nordost cables, and these speakers reveal how good the Nordosts are immediately.

    Good Hunting, enjoy your 7's!

    Bob LaBarca
    State College, PA

    Comment


    • #3
      Mapleshades, Audio Research ....

      I am currently using a restored and modified (Mapleshade) HH Scott 222c with my C7 ES3's. I like the sound very much. There is a very favorable review of an Audio Research tubed integrated ($4,000) in the Sept issue of Stereophile. Also, in the same issue Sam Tellig reviews the Manley Stingray tubed integrated ($3,000 US) which he used with his C7 ES3's. You might also look at Prima Luna and Mystere.

      Comment


      • #4
        Opinions, folklore, facts ....

        Dear Moderator

        Why would you edit my post with the word "may"? regarding my claim that my Harbeths (may) sound better with lower powered amps? In my experience, they DO sound better with lower powered amps. jdincc wanted an opionion and I gave him one-by placing "may" in there, you're making my opinion ambivalent.


        Bob LaBarca
        State College, PA
        USA

        {Moderator's comment: we have the right to edit posts in the interests of clarity and ambiguity. Our readers frequently literally interpret comments here, and an innocent comment that a certain speaker works well with/doesn't work with a certain accessory or amplifier will be taken by some readers as a god given fact. But it's not a fact; it's one person's opinion. And not ours or the designers. These "facts" then become embellished and become a rigid part of the folklore, impossible to correct. What you cannot imagine is the emails and phone calls to the Uk office that one seemingly innocent comment may make. Audiophilia demands we consider the full impact of contributions on the present/future readers.

        The forum is moderated in the interests of all. Please also remember, English is not the first language of many members here who pass these words through a language translator sharpening-up the black/white go/no-go impact of any sentences. In future we will try and highlight editorial changes we have made, but amplifiers/speaker matching is a subject we would happily close forever as you will know.}

        Comment


        • #5
          Tube integrateds ...

          Hi John,
          I am currently driving my SHL5s with a PrimaLuna Prologue 2. Though it shipped with KT88 tubes, I found I liked the Mullard EL34 tubes a little bit better (bigger soundstage, but sloppy bass). I also tried driving them with a Jolida JD1501RC (Hybrid 100 watts). Though not bad, the Jolida was just not in the same class as the PrimaLuna. I barely have to crack the volume for it to play loud with the tube integrated.

          Kevin

          Comment


          • #6
            C7 ...

            Thank you for the replies guys, I should add that I currently am using Ayre seperates V5xe and K5 pre. It does sound VERY good! But I was wondering what you have confirmed. Do I really need 150W RMS, and can I get that good of sound with something cheaper. I need to see about bringing home some amps to try. It's just very hard any more with no dealers around.

            And I DO love the C7's it's hard for me to imagine why anyone would look at any other loudspeaker besides Harbeth LOL.....I know, I know.

            Comment


            • #7
              Tubes and SHL5

              I'll be glad to try my SHL5 with tube since I've sold my Antique Sound Lab AQ-1001 DT tube amp just before my passage to Harbeth. On the tube side, I had good experiences with VTL IT-85 and Leben. Actually, I'm driving the 5 with a Luxman L-505u (transistor). I love the mariage with Harbeth. Very neutral on all the spectrum. For sure, a Luxman tube amp with Harbeth should be magic. I guess there are some Eastern HUG members who have that kind of set-up.

              Sebastien

              Comment


              • #8
                Relax and enjoy whatever amp you have!

                I would say, don't get hung up on the type of amp. There are good and bad solid state, tube, hybrid, class-A etc. What is important is that it sounds good and that doesn't necessarily mean it should cost a lot of money.

                You already have a very good amplifier, so why would you consider replacing it ? If you sell it you will lose a lot of money and for what - maybe a slight change in the sound. I think you should relax and enjoy the great sounds you now have.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Enjoy your amp!

                  Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                  You already have a very good amplifier, so why would you consider replacing it ? If you sell it you will lose a lot of money and for what - maybe a slight change in the sound. I think you should relax and enjoy the great sounds you now have.
                  Well said! There are probably smaller differences between amplifiers in a particular class range (A, A/B, B, D, tubes) than there are between speaker brands! Harbeths are very musical speakers and relatively easy to drive! Just enjoy your setup and invest on LPs or CDs.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The long trudge along the amplifier path ....

                    Originally posted by KT88 View Post
                    Dear Moderator - ... In my experience, they DO sound better with lower powered amps.

                    {Moderator's comment: ... Our readers frequently literally interpret comments here, and an innocent comment ... will be taken by some readers as a god given fact. But it's not a fact; it's one person's opinion. And not ours or the designers. These "facts" then become embellished and become a rigid part of the folklore, impossible to correct. What you cannot imagine is the emails and phone calls to the Uk office that one seemingly innocent comment may make ... In future we will try and highlight editorial changes we have made, but amplifiers/speaker matching is a subject we would happily close forever as you will know.}
                    I'd just like to add my postscript to this. I'd like to be blunt; this is how I perceive the situation to be. We here at HUG are the 'source' Harbeth forum, run by us here at the UK factory and that includes me, the designer. The are many other Harbeth forums around the world in various languages but what makes this Harbeth User Group a little different is that it's the 'official voice of Harbeth' because it's the only one I contribute to. So what is written here permeates out as the official Harbeth position. And regarding amplifiers, a visitor could easily draw the wrong conclusions from the churn here about this or that amplifier.

                    Now, as a speaker design and manufacturing company, and we know all too well that all electro-mechanical transducers (microphones, pick-up cartridges and loudspeakers) are bedevilled with countless measurable problems. It's not far off the truth to say that it is a small miracle that what comes out bears any resemblance to what goes in. That's how bad transducers are. But amplifiers - in most engineer's minds - reached a point of virtual perfection a generation ago, unlike speakers which reached the point of barely-acceptable and became stuck at that point decades ago. People buy Harbeth speakers because they are subjectively better for what they are designed to do (reproduce natural music, naturally at a reasonable loudness) because we've squeezed every molecule of performance from what is, after about a hundred years, a mature technology.

                    Amplifiers seem to attract a neurosis all of their own, which I find deeply disturbing. It just doesn't seem to matter what I or others caution about the dangers (or even impossibility) of making casual A-B comparisons between amplifiers without calibrated measuring equipment, time and a strategy. Despite all rational logic, a significant number of hifi consumers* persists in attributing characteristics to certain amplifiers and then communicating those opinions to others. Hence an amplifier passes into folklore. And following that, an aspiration gap opens where another group of consumers work themselves up into a terrible state fearing that their amplifier, hitherto working very nicely, is now inadequate. It made beautiful music yesterday but today it's fit for the scrap heap. Madness? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Morally reprehensible? Yes - a waste of precious natural resources and wrong to create anxiety in others. Especially when it is not truly objective.

                    You won't believe me - few take any notice of what I say here - but in the great scheme of things, in a world of great instability and anxiety, you just don't need to fret about this amp or that amp. You cannot - I repeat this - you, the layman, cannot begin to draw any objective, repeatable, valid opinions that are worth passing into folklore (and therefore moulding another person's behaviour) unless you devise a proper controlled comparison using an instantaneous A-B switchover. That is a fact. It cannot be refuted. If you were blindfolded and I walked into your listening room and very slightly adjusted the volume control I could reverse your opinions about amplifier X or Y. You must control the listening level between amps under test - or the comparison is in all honesty, meaningless. And that implies that you need specialist audio measuring equipment.

                    As I've said ad nauseam, I work damned hard at the design stage to guarantee - yes guarantee - that my speakers will work well with any hifi amplifier that is operating within and to the original specification. I am not saying that amplifiers 'all sound the same' - quite the opposite. I'm saying that you can expect amplifiers to sound different under loose, uncontrolled 'comparisons' because they all have different gains. And different gains mean different loudness. And different loudness means different subjective characteristics. And they do have. But that is not necessarily to do with the amplifier (although it could be) - it is hugely the consequence of the way humans evaluate by listening and how loudness skews opinion.

                    May I urge you to be mindful of how comments posted here, on the official Harbeth forum, have an unintended influence on others who are at this moment enjoying great music and who do not have the money or interest to chase the end of a rainbow. Many users have saved for years to buy a pair of Harbeth speakers. I've met them. They're not middle class professional people with money to burn - they're ordinary working people who chose to invest their hard-won savings in Harbeth speakers. And they're very contented music lovers. But I do find it objectionable that having climbed that financial mountain, another one is placed in front of them on the never-ending audio nervosa path. For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And I design the speakers!

                    Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with Harbeth. Anything British, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story.

                    The Basics of Owning Harbeth are, as always, just a click away - here.

                    * Do real music lovers care? I very much doubt it.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A recovered audiophile says ....

                      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                      ... For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And I design the speakers!

                      Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with Harbeth. Anything British, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story....
                      May I add my two cents on this, as a (somewhat) recovered audiophile?

                      I (almost) completely agree. When I started becoming interested in audio, it was a commonplace that the speakers were the most important parts of the system. Then the whole "source first" philosophy got started, and I think that the increasing emphasis on amplifiers came about in part as a result of that idea, as amplifiers were "upstream" from the speakers, and therefore more important. (Don't laugh, I remember more than one audio salesperson saying that to me, and reading it in magazines as well.)

                      Another part of the equation is that I think that with speakers that are very difficult to drive, the quality of the amplifier may make more of an audible difference (which doesn't negate at all Alan's comments on subjective analysis). But Harbeths are, as we know, very easy to drive.

                      I've listened to Harbeths with amplifiers (not all mine, of course) costing from $300 to $30,000, made in Australia (Redgum), South Korea (April Music), Canada (Blue Circle), Serbia (Dayens) and the U.K. (Linn, Musical Fidelity). Harbeths sounded great with all of them. Are they each a little different? Subjectively, yes, perhaps, though I wouldn't bet money on being able to reliably distinguish among them. Do they each sound wonderful, and musical, playing through Harbeths? Absolutely.

                      So the only quibble I have is that I don't think the amplifier has to be from Britain. Good amplifiers are made all over. Apart from that, even if you do believe in audible sonic differences between amplifiers, in my opinion those are fairly subtle differences, not remotely comparable to the clear, obvious and unmistakable difference between a great loudspeaker (e.g. Harbeth) and a not-very-good one.

                      If I were doing it all over again I would have bought a pair of Super HL5s right away, and spent far less on everything else. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a comparison between, say, a good $500 amp playing through the SHL5s, as compared to a $5,000 amp playing through a less good speaker. I have no doubt at all what the result would be.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dropping my head in shame at money wated on amps ...

                        Originally posted by EricW View Post
                        <snip> In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a comparison between, say, a good $500 amp playing through the SHL5s, as compared to a $5,000 amp playing through a less good speaker. I have do doubt at all what the result would be.
                        Not exactly at your price points, but I used to run $8300 worth of preamp/amp into $1500 non-Harbeth speakers. Then I switched to a $2000 integrated into C7-ES2 and it was MUCH better than the previous setup. I felt like dropping my head in shame at the money I wasted on electronics. At least I was able to recoup some of the money from the sale of the expensive electronics... it's now collecting interest for me in my M40.1 fund! One day...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I have been off the audio merry-go-round!

                          Wow...Did I just get my hand slapped for asking about tubed amps and Harbeths? LOL That's OK, I don't take it too personal. I am a music lover, so the implication above that I am not is wrong. I own Harbeths for gosh sakes! What other proof do you need?

                          Please let me explain a bit better why I was asking about amps. I used to own a tubed amp that I loved, but didn't have very good speakers at the time. So, I upgraded the speakers and was sorry to discover the tubes were not up to the task of driving them. So I bought my current amp. The sound was hard to fault, but I did not enjoy listening to it. Now, I have been lucky to find the C7's, they are going to be here for a very long time. I'm thinking that I don't need all of the amp I currently have, if I sold it, I should have extra $$ to use for music, gas, savings or what have you.

                          I admit, that thinking may be flawed and I probably should just enjoy the wonderful sound i have and STAY off the audiophile merry go round of changing equipment. I have been doing really well to that end. Rarely do plans like that turn out the way you want though, so i have second thoughts. I appreciate all the advice from everyone and do take it seriously.

                          I've been enjoying the audio hobby for many years, I take no ones word as the gospel, but I enjoy reading others opinions immensely. I figure if they like their Harbeths as much as I do mine....we got quite a lot in common already.

                          I probably will try a "lower" powered tube amp sometime soon and report my impressions if I am allowed, but for now, I'm headed to the system to enjoy some music.

                          Thanks everyone, my intentions were not to spark any kind of heated conversation.

                          [Moderator's comment: don't worry, you just reminded us here that we exist to talk about speakers, not amplifiers!}

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Talking about speakers, amps etc?

                            Note to Mod.

                            Realistically, you can't just talk about 'speakers'. You need an amplifier to hear the speakers and sometimes, people want advice on amps. If amps are taboo, what next ? no questions about CD players, turntables, cables, tuners or anything other than speakers ?

                            The HUG will degenerate into 'I am thinking about buying Harbeth' and 'I have Harbeth'. Not very interesting I would suggest.

                            {Moderator's comment: this is the manufacturer's forum. There are so many other forums not linked to Harbeth where you can chat all day and night about equipment that Harbeth does not make ..... let's concentrate here on what we do make and have knowledge about .... Harbeth speakers not amps etc. we've never heard of, never seen, never met their designers or executives, have no way of evaluating if they are charlatans or not .... should we give such products exposure here on the manufacturer's web site? We don't think so. Interesting observation: how few posts are about the core subject (about which we know something). That concerns us.}

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Exactly and if you restrict allowable posts to Harbeth speakers and nothing else, the HUG will grind to a halt and be a very boring place.

                              Harbeth users and/or prospective buyers will often have questions about the Hi-Fi system and this is a good place to answer those questions. You can't take speakers in isolation, they need an amp, source, cables and music for them to produce sounds.

                              After all, it is a 'system' we listen to and not just a pair of speakers, you can't separate them.

                              {Moderator's comments: Noted. But if the designer himslef of all Harbeth speakers just grabs an amp from the store room doesn't that imply that the contribution of an amp to the whole system is small? And perhaps not worth the air time it gets here?}

                              Comment

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